Flames destroy house from 1800s
By Shavonne Potts
CLEVELAND ó Fire offiicials are trying to determine what sparked a fire early Wednesday morning at a historic home.
Firefighters responded to 101 Church St. around 4 a.m. and had the fire under control in about 30 minutes. Cleveland Community Fire Chief Kenny Payne said they believe someone driving by spotted the fire and called it in.
When fire officials received the call, the vacant home already was fully engulfed.
“The only thing we could do was keep it from spreading,” Payne said, adding the two-story wood frame home, built in the 1800s, was destroyed.
The house is known to many as the Leona Gabriel home. Gabriel was a longtime Rowan County teacher who died in 1985.
The home had been vacant for years and was up for sale.
In 2004, the property was bought by Wayne and Maxine Pimental, according to records in the Rowan County Register of Deeds.
Payne said he believed a Florida family had moved out some time ago.
The Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office contacted the SBI to assist in the investigation, Payne said.
It is unclear whether the fire was an act of arson. It is still under investigation, he said.
Downed power lines hindered firefighters from getting water on the house, Payne said.
The lines in front of the house had fallen across some fire hoses. There were no injuries.
The following agencies also responded: West Rowan Volunteer fire, Rowan-Iredell fire, Woodleaf fire and Locke fire departments.